Arugula, also known as rocket leaves, is a leafy green used with sandwiches, salads, pizzas, roasted vegetables and cooked dishes.
It belongs to the mustard family and has similar bitter notes and fresh peppery taste. Baby arugula offers a milder taste while larger leaves come with a spicier flavor.
While many people like the taste of this green, some others just hate its strong pungency that’s reflected in any dish you add it into.
Whether you can’t find it in markets or you belong to the group of people who always look for arugula substitutes, here are the most suitable options.
Best Arugula Substitutes To Try
1. Baby Spinach
Luckily there are many substitutes for arugula, and baby spinach is the mildest in taste to choose instead of it. It is an easy-to-find substitute and it’s available in supermarkets all-year-round.
It has no bitterness in taste and is a superb option for those who look for a neutral flavor profile for their arugula recipes. It is also great to mix with other greens, flavors and seasonings. You can use raw baby spinach as a dressing for pizzas just like arugula.
2. Dandelion Greens
Although dandelion greens belong to a different plant family, they look like arugula and are a great alternative to it in raw dishes and salads.
It has the same bitterness and peppery taste as arugula. In case you don’t want to have the bitter taste of dandelion greens, try to find baby dandelion leaves. They have a subtler taste.
Compared to arugula, dandelion greens offer more food energy. They have many health benefits.
Basil will taste great especially in vegetable soups if you choose it to use instead of arugula. It has a savory and sweet flavor, mixed with minty and peppery notes. This herb goes well with meat, fish, seafood, pizzas, and adds a rich flavor to salads and appetizers.
Basil is more aromatic than arugula and it is not used as the main ingredient in dishes. You can use it to flavor dishes and you may also consider it as a herb to season salads or add a little amount of it to cooked dishes, meats and fish.
4. Baby Kale
Baby kale has subtle leaves which go well with salads and serve as topping for pizzas and side dishes. Both the stems and leaves of this plant are edible but if you choose it to substitute arugula, then you’d better go for the leaves.
They have a slightly peppery flavor and are used not only in raw but also in cooked dishes like soups. However, it’s more palatable when you eat it raw.
Purslane is well-known with its health benefits and it is often used for medical purposes. However, if you are looking for a reminiscent taste to arugula, then this herb can be one of your best choices.
Compared to arugula it has a crunchy texture and rougher leaves, but it doesn’t mean you can’t use it raw and fresh. Fresh purslane tastes kind of salty and savory and is juicier than arugula. It is perfect for salads, sandwiches, side dishes and as a topping for pizzas and soups.
6. Bok Choy
Bok choy is another leafy green known as Chinese cabbage. It has white to pale green stalks and green leaves, both of which are edible. The stalk is crunchy and juicy and the leaves taste mild and have a cabbage-like flavor.
Bok choy comes from the mustard family and you can use those green leaves in salads, soups, stir-fries and in sandwiches.
Frisée is a type of lettuce with curly green leaves that taste bitter and peppery and have a crunchy texture. It looks like escarole. It can be used to substitute arugula in salads and sandwiches.
If you want to get less bitter taste in your plate then use paler green leaves of Frisée. However, it is basically flavored with warm seasonings. So there is a matter of taste and preferences to consider when choosing it as a replacer for arugula.
Slightly bitter and beautifully shaped endive is a leaf vegetable native to Egypt and Indonesia. It has gained more popularity in Asia, Europe and America and you may easily find it to use instead of arugula.
It is perfect in soups and completes flavors of different greens in salads and side dishes. Its taste becomes milder when you cook it.
As for mâche, it is a leaf vegetable popular in Europe. This flowering plant is often used in corn salads and goes well with contrasting flavors. It has a mild and neutral taste similar to spinach, and you can choose it to add in dishes that call for arugula. It is great with pizzas, salads and sandwiches as well as with cooked dishes.
It has subtle leaves and you can eat them raw. However, if you decide to serve it with cooked vegetables you can steam or saute it a little bit.
Watercress is another leafy veggie rich in vitamins. It has a spicy and peppery taste similar to other members of the mustard family. This means that you can safely use it instead of arugula in many dishes.
It has subtle tiny leaves which look awesome in salads and sandwiches. They add a fresh touch to dishes and tend to make it appealing.
11. Indian Cress
Indian cress is the same as nasturtium leaves. The entire plant of this leafy vegetable is edible. Compared to arugula, which has an oak-like shape, Indian cress has round-shaped leaves.
However, it has a similar peppery and spicy taste as mustard and arugula: only with a milder flavor. Indian cress doesn’t carry bitterness, in case you worry about it.
You can use it in salads, sauces, dips and side dishes as well as in cooked meals. Make sure to add it at the end of cooking to avoid overcooking.
Radicchio is an interesting leafy vegetable with a cabbage-like appearance and spicy bitterness. It is a great option to replace with arugula in salads and sandwiches. It comes with white-purple leaves which add a pop of color to any dish.
There are three types of radicchio native to Italy and parts of America. You can use any of them if they are available in your area.
13. Mixed Greens
Mixed greens are sold in almost all supermarkets and markets. They are usually made of some bunches of different greens including arugula. You can use either only the arugula or the whole combination of greens to provide your dish with a richer aroma and taste. This works well especially with vegetable salads, green salads as well as with pizzas and sandwiches.
14. Romaine Lettuce
Whenever you have romaine lettuce in hand you can use it instead of arugula in several dishes. Of course romaine lettuce differs from arugula in some of its features like color and texture, but it offers a similar taste.
Romaine lettuce has a juicy and refreshing taste with a bit of bitter flavor. You can use it to replace arugula in salads, pizzas and sandwiches as it looks like leafy vegetables.
Mizuna is a leafy green vegetable native to Asian cuisine. It is considered to be a mix of arugula and other mustard greens and tastes peppery and bitter just like other members of the mustard family.
You can choose it instead of arugula both for raw and cooked dishes. It goes well with salads, stir fries, pastas and soups.
FAQs on Arugula
Is it safe to eat arugula raw?
Yes, it’s safe to eat arugula raw. Moreover, it’s more delicious raw, that’s why it’s mainly used as a topping for salads, sandwiches and pizzas.
Why do some people not like arugula?
It is a “weird” plant with a better taste, but people who don’t like its taste haven’t eaten it in its best way. You should make sure you eat this plant just after harvesting it, otherwise it won’t be fresh and therefore, won’t taste good.
On the other hand, arugula is best served with other greens, seasonings and ingredients that make it taste better. It may not be pleasant to the tongue on its own.
When the thing is about arugula substitutes, it’s better to orientate by your preferences and personal taste. Maybe you want to have a bitter taste, maybe not. We haved offered all the possible substitutes to make your choice as easy as possible.